Often, in my writing, I repeat some variation of this:
All things in life arise and subside; everything is a wave that rushes forward and pulls back.
It’s a declaration of unattachment that yields happiness, beauty, and much more for me. It’ll do that for you too, if you plant it in your inner garden.
It starts by transforming our reactions. For those situations or beings we might consider negative, it invokes patience to wait for their vanishing. For those we might consider positive, it reminds us against clinging and hoping for permanence.
This moderation of reaction leads us directly into the beauty of life. The singing of the bird is only the single note you hear in a given moment – there is no song for you unless you bring a fullness of awareness to the single note. Being able to experience the single bird note arising transports the entire song into your heart.
Beyond that, understanding of the arising and subsiding is also a constant healing.
When pain arises and we begin to resist it, our thoughts begin their wheeling – “When will this pain end? I have suffered this for so very long.” From the understanding of impermanence, the gentle whisper of mind back to mind replies – “This pain never before existed and cannot continue, for there is no such timeline.” And with that, the wheel subsides and the pain becomes merely an awareness. The perception of pain is no different in measure than awareness of breath, awareness of the light filtering through the trees, no different than the caress of the wind on one’s cheek. It comes, and we can peacefully sit with it, and it goes, and we can bid it farewell with equal equanimity.
When loss arises and we begin to resist it, the mental refrain begins – “How much must I lose? Will I never find permanent happiness?” Faith replies “Ah, but there is nothing to be held or lost – the form has shifted, that is all, love does not cease to exist.” The wheel subsides again and loss becomes a process of grieving – missing that which is no longer to be perceived by sense, honoring those who are no longer with us. Grieving is no different in process than recovery from addiction, recovery from a physical injury, and the struggle to create a change in one’s life or world. Arising, we take the next step before us; subsiding, we fully experience the transformations of self as our form changes.
The arising and subsiding is peacefulness and patience, it’s faith and constancy, it’s healing and beauty – because it’s you in all of your various manifestations, dear heart, just as are the things you might be seeking flight from. We subside in confusion and arise in single-mindedness, we subside in anger and arise in peace, we end one song and start another.
Each moment, each day, each year, each life is a wheel of arising and subsiding. Had you been watching, you would have witnessed your form dying and being born again innumerable times as you read this.
Freedom from the desire for permanent form is nothing less than the perception of grace.